Friday, 23 June 2017

Guest Blog - Our Product Taskforce team experience in Bristol

On Wednesday 7th of June, a group of international ARAG colleagues met up in Bristol to work together for the Task Forces initiative.


The main idea behind the Task Force project is to bring together product developers from different ARAG countries to brainstorm and push innovation forward in quick and unexpected ways.

Our two groups, focusing on the topics of Sharing Economy and Cyber, discussed product ideas and future market trends, presenting their results to each other at the end of the day. The presentations were interesting and to the point, as everyone worked hard to prepare the road for the final goal: the International Product Workshop in September!

We strongly believe that new creative opportunities can be created through cross-country discussions and idea-sharing. It was a real pleasure to be hosted by ARAG UK in Bristol, having the chance to make an office tour within the premises and meet all the colleagues.

Many Thanks to everyone and see you next time!

Jennifer, Ilaria and Camilla, ARAG SE




  

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Why serving our customers is so important – George Bladon, Corporate Account Manager

I’ve just returned from a busy but enjoyable couple of days on the sunny English Riviera, attending the NFRN Annual Conference, in Torquay.

The NFRN represent a large number of independent retailers across the UK and Ireland and they were gathered together in order to discuss the various challenges they face in their daily business lives: from financial pressures due to increased business rates and competition from supermarket chains, to onerous legislation and regulations.

Being able to engage directly with the end user of our product was a fantastic opportunity for us and an important reminder of why we place so much emphasis on being an innovative and flexible partner.

Over the last two days, we spoke to independent retailers about the wide range of legal issues that concern them, including employment issues, tax enquiries, licensing matters and contractual disputes.

With lawyers charging hundreds of pounds per hour, the cost of getting involved in any sort of legal dispute could be crippling, so it was great to be able to reassure NFRN members about the benefits of the policy and how it can help with advice, assistance, online legal resources and vital legal protection.
Clearly, not all retailers are going to face the same issues. For an organisation like the NFRN, looking to provide its members with a product that really meets their needs and provides great value, working with a flexible and innovative partner like ARAG is invaluable.

As a company, we have something in common with such customers, who strive for independence and self-fulfillment. As an independent, family-owned business, we are free to make our own decisions, without constraint, making independence our most valuable asset. It provides a significant business advantage for our partners as we are quick, flexible and easy to do business with, enabling us to work out a solution that works for you.

If you are looking to offer your customers a tailored legal expenses and assistance insurance product then please get in touch to find out how we can provide the solutions to assist you.

Contact details:

George Bladon, Corporate Account Manager
Email: george.bladon@arag.co.uk
Mail: 9 Whiteladies Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1NN
Phone: 0117 307 2262
Mobile: 07766 130469



Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Getting ready for the insurance distribution directive

Background to the IDD

The European Union Insurance Distribution Directive ("IDD") is designed to make it easier for firms to trade cross-border, create a level playing field among all participants and strengthen policyholder protection. The Directive updates the 2002 Insurance Mediation Directive ("IMD"), which set out a framework for regulating EU insurance brokers, agents and other intermediaries.

The overriding aim of the IDD is to ensure that all parties in the insurance distribution chain act professionally, honestly, fairly and in the best interests of their clients.

The IDD is wide-ranging but some of its specific provisions include:
  • Professional development: employees of insurance intermediaries must complete at least 15 hours of professional training per year.
  • Disclosure: before the conclusion of a contract, intermediaries must disclose to their customers the nature and basis of their remuneration (e.g. fees and commission).
  • Remuneration: intermediaries must not remunerate or assess the performance of employees in a way which conflicts with their duty to act in the best interests of their clients.
  • Provision of information: intermediaries must provide certain information to their customers to summarise the main features of the proposed contract).

Transposition into UK law


The IDD is currently subject to consultation and the Government intends to transpose it into UK laws by February 2018.

Full details of the Government’s consultation can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/transposition-of-the-insurance-distribution-directive/transposition-of-the-insurance-distribution-directive

Impact


The FCA is currently assessing the impact of IDD and we are engaging in the consultation process. Where we intend to introduce particular measures in response to the IDD we will be communicating suitable statements as our responses become clear.

Demands and needs

 One specific requirement of the IDD concerns demands and needs statements (D & NS) and we have been able to take an early look at that particular aspect of the directive. It is the responsibility of the organisation or person who sells an insurance policy to a customer to provide a D & NS.

  • The IDD makes it clear that firms need to specify the customer’s insurance demands and needs based on information obtained by the firm from the customer. Firms must take an active role in identifying the customer’s demands and needs (through asking questions) early in the sales process.
  • To comply with this new requirement, firms need to:
    • identify the customer’s demands and needs and match them to the available products, and
    • state the customer’s demands and needs to assist them in making an informed decision.
  • The distinction between advised and non-advised sales will remain. For non-advised retail sales, the FCA will not expect firms to carry out a detailed investigation of the customer’s circumstances, but customer demands and needs must be identified and it must be ensured that contracts proposed provide cover that meets those demands and needs. For example, a firm which sells motor insurance on a non-advised basis would be expected to ask the customer questions about the level of cover they require, the amount of excess they are prepared to pay, and the type/amount of their driving (amongst other relevant things). The product offering should be limited to products which would meet these specified demands and needs.
  • The FCA will amend its guidance to make it clear that firms must ensure that they identify and specify the demands and needs of the customer. For example, it would not be appropriate to provide a generic statement of demands and needs where the firm has not first taken steps to identify the demands and needs of the actual customer. However, generic D & NS may be appropriate if the firm has narrowed the product options it offers to only those where the customer’s demands and needs match those in the statement.
 

Our response

We have taken the opportunity to improve our suite of D & NS in advance of the implementation of IDD.

Since it is a seller’s (and not a product designer’s) responsibility to provide customers with a D& NS, agents are free to use their own documents if they wish or to re-brand ours. We will ask to see a copy of an agent’s own document if they do not wish to use the ARAG D & NS.

Our new D & NS comprise of question sets to encourage customers to actively consider what they want from their Legal Expenses or Assistance Insurance policy and raise awareness of policy features at the point of sale. The new D & NS literature can be down- loaded as PDF documents from the product section on our website. Items are suitable for our standard product range. Agents may wish to modify the standard D & NS where we have designed bespoke content into a product or where products target customer groups with particular interests or concerns.



Monday, 29 May 2017

Celebrating diversity

Fairness is one of the principles that underpins all ARAG activities, whether in the UK or worldwide. Bringing together the 14 nationalities of staff in Bristol helps share and explore diversities of culture and, by embracing differences, encourages us all to make better use of our potential.

So, last year we marked Bastille Day on 14 July on behalf of the French. This year, it was the Greek National Day on 25 March where we celebrated freedom.
Landmarks like this focus our thoughts on core objectives in life, and the fun part – dressing in national colours, flying the appropriate flag and enjoying traditional food – are a good way to make sure we remember them. Incidentally, most Greeks eat salt cod with garlic potatoes for lunch on their National Day and, for the record, our Greek members of staff are In-House Counsel, Hector Stamboulieh and Software Development Manager, Kostas Tsarouchis.

The lengthy war for Greek independence, starting in 1821, was by no means the first uprising against four centuries of rule from the Ottoman empire but this time it was successful. By 1832 a treaty was agreed. It is not the only date regarded as a national day in Greece: ‘Ochi’ Day on 28 October commemorates rejection – ‘No’ – of an ultimatum delivered by the Italian ambassador to Greek Prime Minister Metaxas in 1940, demanding that Italian troops be allowed into Greece.


Friday, 26 May 2017

Best Employer

We pride ourselves on being a quality insurer. But what defines quality? Sure, we know our products are some of the best in the market, and our prices offer great value for money.  It’s the people of ARAG that deliver the service which our customers have come to expect and we believe it’s this that separates us from the rest; it’s this that makes us a quality business.

Quality service comes from those who are motivated, happy and engaged. Best Companies is the gold standard when attempting to gauge the engagement of your people; it’s the benchmark that underpins the Times Top 100 Companies to Work For.

We’re proud, for the second year running, to have been awarded outstanding employer status (two-star).  We therefore know that we’re doing things right in terms of Leadership, Teamwork, Personal Growth and Giving Something Back to name a few. Being outstanding reaffirms our belief that we’re on the right track.

But we want to do more; our drive makes us look for continuous improvement. We have aspirations to be a three-star company within two years and to compete against those in the Times Top 100 list.  We want to have engaged, motivated, inspired, happy, learning people who can not only deliver against our customers’ expectations, but go beyond them.